MONMOUTH — Oregon’s Cooper Teare crossed the finish line in second place, turned back and watched as Duck after Duck after Duck soon followed.
Five Oregon runners in the top 17, six in the top 20.
“I told all of them, ‘I think we won!’” Teare said.
Not this year, but it was oh-so close.
Led by Teare’s career-best performance at the Pac-12 Cross Country Championship meet, the No. 16 Ducks finished second to No. 3 Colorado in the men’s 8,000-meter race Friday at Western Oregon University’s Ash Creek Preserve course.
With five runners in the top 13, including individual champion Joe Klecker, the Buffaloes finished with 41 points to 57 for Oregon.
“I legitimately thought there’s no way we can lose with that type of group running,” Teare said with a smile. “Props to Colorado.”
One year after winning the conference title, the No. 20 Oregon women placed fifth in their 6,000-meter race, which was won by No. 2 Stanford in a runaway as the Cardinal had a 1-2-3 finish en route to 21 points against a field loaded with top teams and talent.
Third-ranked Washington was second with 55 points, No. 16 Utah was third with 86 and No. 5 Colorado was fourth with 89.
The Ducks scored 115, led by a ninth-place finish from Susan Ejore.
“Well, welcome to the Pac-12,” Oregon women’s associate head coach Helen Lehman-Winters said. “We aspire to finish higher as a team, but we got a lot better from where we were (two weeks ago) at Wisconsin.”
So did the men, who finished 10th at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison on Oct. 18 (the women were 14th) in a large, NCAA championship-quality field.
The Ducks returned from that meet determined to run better as a team and they were pleased with the results Friday.
Teare finished in 23 minutes, 5.7 seconds, exactly three seconds behind Klecker, who Teare couldn’t catch as they raced down the homestretch.
The Oregon junior was eighth at the Pac-12 meet as a freshman in 2017 and sixth last season as the Ducks finished fourth as a team.
“Today was about keeping in contact with the front group,” Teare said. “With 800 (meters) to go I just tried to stay composed so I would have something left at the end.”
Senior James West put together a strong finish to his race, climbing from 33rd halfway through the race to place ninth in 23:20.0. It was his first top-10 finish in three Pac-12 championship races.
“Tough, that was tough,” West said. “But that’s how I run my best. I just hang back and if I feel good I can pick people off.”
Jackson Mestler, Charlie Hunter and Cole Hocker were barely six seconds apart as they finished in 14th (23:26.8), 15th (23:27.0) and 17th (23:32.2), respectively, to complete the scoring for Oregon. Jack Yearin was 20th for the Ducks in 23:36.2.
It was Hunter who set the early tone for Oregon as he jumped into the lead right away and paced the pack through the first 2,000.
“I was little skeptical of that at first,” said Teare of watching his teammate go out so hard do early. “But I think he showed everybody that we were here.”
The Ducks were able finish ahead of three top-10 teams. Stanford, which is tied with Colorado for No. 3, finished third with 69 points, No. 10 UCLA was fourth with 84 points and No. 7 Washington was fifth with 87.
“Obviously this gives guys some confidence because we beat some teams here that are favored to be up there at nationals,” Oregon men’s associate head coach Ben Thomas said. “So why not us?”
That’ll be the message to Oregon’s women’s team as well, as Lehman-Winters saw improvements in her team, even if the result was a middle-of-the-pack finish.
Fiona O’Keeffe was the champion for the Cardinal in 19:32.7, followed by teammates Ella Donaghu (19:34.9) and Jessica Lawson (19:38.1). Former Duck Katie Rainsberger was fourth for the Huskies in 19:41.5.
Ejore was ninth in 19:55.2 and stuck with the lead group throughout the entire race.
“To be top-10 in the Pac-12 two years in a row for a kid who focuses on the 800 meters is really, really solid,” Lehman-Winters said.
Last season the Ducks scored 32 points in their title win and had four runners in the top 10, including Ejore who was sixth overall and third for Oregon.
On Friday, Amanda Gehrich was 20th in 20:13.2, Taylor Chiotti was 24th in 20:24.3, Phily Bowden was 29th in 20:34.1 and Aneta Konieczek was 34th in 20:42.2.
“Everybody gave what they could give,” Ejore said.
Also in the women’s race, Oregon State finished seventh with 197 points. Lexi Reed led the way with a 28th-place finish in 20:32.6.
Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or email at email@example.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.